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History of Private Life, Volume III: Passions of the Renaissance [Paperback]

Roger Chartier , Phillippe Ariès , Georges Duby , Arthur Goldhammer
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 14, 1993 067440002X 978-0674400023
Readers interested in history, and in the development of the modern sensibility, will relish this large-scale yet intimately detailed examination of the blossoming of the ordinary and extraordinary people of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. This third in the popular five-volume series celebrates the emergence of individualism and the manifestations of a burgeoning self-consciousness over three centuries.

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History of Private Life, Volume III: Passions of the Renaissance + History of Private Life, Volume II: Revelations of the Medieval World + History of Private Life, Volume IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War
Price for all three: $143.59

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These volumes, edited by Philippe Aries and Georges Duby, are aimed at both the scholar and layperson who wonder how people lived and behaved from ancient times to the present: "their thoughts, their feelings, their bodies, their attitudes, their habits and habitations, their codes, their marks, and their signs." The focus is on western European life, primarily French.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


In the original sense of the term, A History of Private Life is a series of essays: attempts at a new, non-narrative kind of history. Sumptuously illustrated with pictures, maps, and photographs, the book is a feast for the eye; it is fascinating, often compelling in its exquisite details… A kaleidoscopic effect is doubtless part of the authors’ purpose: to question our assumption that we understand the history of Renaissance individualism and make us realize that it is as complicated as the variety of traces left by three centuries of private life. (Maureen Quilligan New York Times Book Review)

This is a bold and seductive book… Richly illustrated, with contributions from foremost French historians, it is set fair to become the authoritative history of intimacy in the early modern West. (Lyndal Roper Times Higher Education Supplement)

Its broad chronological scope, its remarkable effective integration of essays by different historians, and above all its ability to represent the seemingly frivolous details of private life in a challengingly theoretical matrix make this an important and exciting work for historians of Early Modern Europe. (Lawrence Wolff Journal of Social History)

Product Details

  • Series: History of Private Life (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 655 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (November 14, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067440002X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674400023
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not as good as the earlier volumes December 31, 2002
I had a much harder time getting into this volume than the two previous ones. It is far more limited geographically in that about 90% of it is about France and it is also edited rather poorly: many of the chapters are chock full of vague generalizations that require far more historical knowledge than I had to evaluate them (my failing, perhaps, but also an indication of the level of the book). Finally, many of the chapters were far less fun than the ones in the previous two volumes.
That being said, there are absolutely wonderful nuggets embedded throughout the book. This is, afterall, the era when the individual emerges en masse from the "community" mentality of the middle ages, as the absolutist state (and its embryonic legal system) replaces the more relationship-based bonds of feudal communties. This had innumerable consequences, including the development of public schools on a widespread basis and a sense of justice as administered by the state rather than by a feudal lord who demanded personal loyalty.
THere are also many episodes within this that make for great reading. For example, there is a whole chapter on the development of accepted manners for the middle classes and even below, based on those of the court but also on books on etiquette such as one written by Erasmus himself, which astounded me as I learned its various editions were influential for over 300 years on wuch topics as acceptable table manners. THere were also chapters on charivari - a kind of moralistic razzing of newlyweds that combined extortion and youthful exuberance, carried out as they were (sometimes for months) by amoral thugs! Even the notion of childhood - of the child having a distinctive personality with his/her own requirements and needs - was developed in this period.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The "Early Modern" Period December 28, 2004
And now volume three. My reviews of the first two books in this series have garnered a fat total of 0 votes, positive or negative, so I'll make this review brief.

This book charts the transistion from the middle ages to the beginnings of the modern period. In the introduction by Aries (who's scholarship is the inspiration for this project), he makes a claim that this time period deserves to be treated as a seperate "early modern" period. It's a noble thought, but the book reads more like one would expect: a lot of the middle ages and a little of modernity, but a lack of the coherence that one sees in volumes I, II and IV.

The authors are mostly concerned with discussing two (seemingly)contradictory trends: the attempt by families to develop "private space" and the attempt by the state to intrude on that private space. Chapter two deals mostly with the first statement, chapter three with the second.

You have to keep an open mind with the Annales school of scholarship. The writers favor open ended generalizations to conclusive statements and are just as interested in providing ideas for further study as they are in answering questions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible series of timeless history books January 1, 2008
I was introduced to this series with volume III and I absolutely loved it as a student and was compelled to purchase the rest. They are nothing like a typical history textbook. So much history is obsessed with politics and war that reading about the history of daily life is a breath of fresh air. Each volume is organized as a collection of nicely illustrated and subdivided essays, each written by one of many eminent French historians.

Each essay explores a different topic related to everyday life and the essays are organized into several main themes. Some of the topics are a bit mundane and others are truly fascinating--depending on one's personal taste. My favorite part of this volume is the section that discusses the impact of printing and writing on European culture during this period--far beyond just the obvious. The essay about changing views on childhood was also memorable. There are also quite a few spicy morsels sprinkled throughout these books as well. I learned more about the history of certain aspects of European private life than I expected.

Even though these books were written in the 1980s, they will remain relevant, historically useful, and accurate for decades to come. Plus, look at the price of these books used! Amazing, considering how good they are.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent book, November 23, 2008
This is an excelent book, the editors do an outstanding job. I highly recommend it for anyone studying history
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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Good Idea ...but drowned in florid speach. May 1, 2002
This book is a good idea. But there is room for litterature that can tell the same in a more lively way with far fewer words. ...or can tell four time as much with the same number of pages. - The language of most of the authors is such that you wonder WHY they have chosen to say what they attempt to tell in such flowery ways. After a paragraph it's hard to remember "What did he try to tell me now." It's easier to think: "Yes. I can see that you have learnt a hole lot of words, and adjectives in particular." - I have found litterature about the same topic, put in a different language that manage to do this far better. In fact I've found public reports that with regards to the ability to convey a thought is far more readable.
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